Hello! My name is Angelica Bell and I am a dance educator/teaching artist. I am the Artistic Director of a non-profit dance studio in Southeast Ohio called Factory Street Studio, and an Art Possible Ohio teacher at the Carleton School! I want to “pull back the curtain” and share the ways I have adapted my teaching since the COVID-19 crisis began.
A beloved teacher of mine once asked me years ago in another challenging period of time, “How do we get students to dance when they don’t feel like dancing?” This is such a simple and yet profound question. It has been apparent to me since the beginning of this online dance teaching shift that my students are simply not motivated to dance– their concert has been cancelled, they do not get to see their friends, and they are stuck at home. The wind has been knocked out of their sails. So, how, as a teacher, can I keep them engaged? Well, I am trying to figure that out! A few things that seem to be working are:
Maintaining weekly social Zoom chats with the students outside of dance class. This way, they get to maintain their relationships with others in their class and feel some connection despite our distance.
Organizing virtual community events, like “Movie Night” using Netflix Party so that we can all watch the same movie at the same time and comment as we go along. Watching the same movie at the same time unites us.
Creating short but energetic dance classes with content they are “required” to learn and share in our Zoom classes the following week (to spark accountability for learning material and reproducing it). The reality is that they are still welcome to participate if they do not have the material learned and memorized, but it gives them a deadline to work toward and the awareness that they are expected to share with friends and teachers in class motivates them to be successful.
Overall, we have to appeal to the human and social creature in our students to keep them interested and engaged– children and adults alike are desperate for human connection in these challenging times. The more I can provide social support through my online dance classes, the more successful my program will be.